ACFCS Member Spotlight: For Thomson Reuters’ Amanda DuPont, children’s ability to be ‘curious, fearless’ in face of challenges inspires, guides fincrime fight

The Skinny:

  • When it comes to finding a source of inspiration, for Amanda DuPont, a public records product expert at Thomson Reuters, she doesn’t have to look far for an infinite wellspring to draw from: children.
  • The Minneapolis, MN.-resident has found that over her 23 years in the legal and financial services fields, passion, tenacity, curiosity and the ability to see historical and emerging challenges with new eyes are vital.
  • As one of the famed founders of Cubism, Pablo Picasso, said. “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
  • In descriptions of Cubism, it is called a “revolutionary new approach to representing reality” that brings “different views of subjects, whether objects of figures, in the same picture.”
  • The ability to balance bringing decades of knowledge to bear, while stepping outside of yourself to examine problems from fresh perspectives can be a powerful combination, particularly in the field of compliance, which places a premium on expertise tied to diligent research, thorough investigations and informed and defensible decision-making.

By Brian Monroe
bmonroe@acfcs.org
January 5, 2021 

When it comes to finding a source of inspiration, for Amanda DuPont, a public records product expert at Thomson Reuters, she doesn’t have to look far for an infinite wellspring to draw from: children.

The Minneapolis, MN.-resident has found that over her 23 years in the legal and financial services fields, passion, tenacity, curiosity and the ability to see historical and emerging challenges with new eyes are vital.

The ability to balance bringing decades of knowledge to bear, while stepping outside of yourself to examine problems from fresh perspectives can be a powerful combination.

I’m always inspired by kids,” she said. “I love how their brains work – their fearlessness, their curiosity and their joy. I love talking to kids about their ideas. They see endless possibilities – just listen to them while they play. I try to look at all opportunities through the lens of a kid to this day.”

As one of the famed founders of Cubism, Pablo Picasso, said. “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

In descriptions of Cubism, it is called a “revolutionary new approach to representing reality” that brings “different views of subjects, whether objects of figures, in the same picture.”

That axiom is only magnified when it comes to the field of financial crimes and compliance, which places a premium on expertise tied to diligent research, thorough investigations and informed and defensible decision-making.

Moreover, those decisions must constantly be reviewed and re-reviewed.

Why?

With new technologies, analyses, red flags and dense and didactic reports routinely rising to the fore, fincrime professionals are under nigh constant pressure to scrutinize regions, companies, individuals and transactions anew, as more data grants perspective from a new vantage point, the refocused risk lens of context.  

Better understanding what a compliance program should look like from laws, regulations and guidance, regulatory enforcement actions and creating rich intelligence for law enforcement are areas DuPont excels with a background in complex legal work.

She practiced law in Minneapolis for more than eight years where she represented businesses in all types of legal advising roles – from class action litigation work to contracts and negotiations.

Amanda holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

DuPoint joined Thomson Reuters in 2006 and has held roles throughout the business, focusing over the last decade exclusively on Thomson Reuters’ public records solutions, where she champions innovation, automation, speed, ease of use and efficiency in the divination and disposition of public records.

But the secret to success often lies in overcoming the fear of failure and liberally sharing those painful nuggets from the school of hard knocks, she said.

Rising in the fincrime compliance field requires some juggling: “Multi-tasking and the willingness to take on new projects,” DuPont said. “Failing isn’t bad – you learn the most when results don’t go as you expected. Share what you learn with your business, your colleagues – share your knowledge!”

One of the best pieces of advice she has ever received echoes her sentiment to see the world like an inquisitive child, a mantra that can in some cases result in being a catalyst for change inspiring the next generation.  

I learned this long ago from one of my favorite teachers – be willing to question the status quo,” DuPont said. “Nothing would change if we didn’t.”

DuPont was kind enough to share some of her insight in our latest ACFCS Member Spotlight. 

Who inspires you?

I’m always inspired by kids. I love how their brains work – their fearlessness, their curiosity and their joy. I love talking to kids about their ideas. They see endless possibilities – just listen to them while they play.

I try to look at all opportunities through the lens of a kid to this day. Ha – and I definitely have that kid-like approach to my career – I still tell people I don’t know what I’ll be when I grow up (funny knowing how old I am) and my husband and I tell our own 2 kids (both in their 20s) that they don’t need to know either.

Follow your curiosity. Kids have it figured out!

What is one thing - industry-related or not - that you learned in the past month?

A new solution we’re building at Thomson Reuters is tied to international identity verification. I’m learning how every country writes addresses differently – from street numbers to street names etc. 

What is something about you that not many people know?

My family is dual US and Luxembourg citizens – the ability to live anywhere today and work anywhere today I think is more and more an option.

Covid has really exposed this reality that has been true for some time – but now everyone is seeing that option with huge amounts of the workforce working from home.

What do you do in your current role

Every day is different. I may be in a meeting talking to a large financial institution’s AML department, followed by a meeting with a fintech software, followed by an internal meeting looking at how to build a new solution and then speaking at an industry event.

The variety of the day and the variety of the people and customers and industries I talk with is my favorite part of my role as a Public Records subject matter expert.

What does your career trajectory in financial crime look like?

I began my career as a lawyer – practicing law in Minneapolis for over 8 years representing businesses in all types of legal advising roles – from class action litigation work to contracts and negotiations.

By the early 2000s, I could quickly see the practice of law changing – how necessary technology would be to handling litigation, discovery, advising, etc. I joined Thomson Reuters in 2006 after practicing law and seeing the intersection between technology and information.

In 2010 – once Thomson Reuters launched CLEAR (our public records software) in the corporate space – I have remained solely focused on exploring how public and proprietary information and technology can be leveraged by our customer base (both public and private sectors) to help solve issues that without technology – could take hours, days, weeks to solve. 

I’m most focused on that now here at Thomson Reuters in the space of KYC – knowing your customer –and doing due diligence.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

I learned this long ago from one of my favorite teachers – be willing to question the status quo. Nothing would change if we didn’t.

What would you say are the most important attributes for someone in your position to succeed?

Multi-tasking and the willingness to take on new projects. Failing isn’t bad – you learn the most when results don’t go as you expected. Share what you learn with your business, your colleagues – share your knowledge!

Combo answers for:

How has (compliance, investigations, etc.) changed and evolved during your career?
What do you see as the key financial crime challenges in your role or in the sector overall?
What motivated you to become a financial crime compliance professional?
What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love looking at how technology keeps changing how we do things.

I tell people I’m highly curious, love learning and maybe frankly a little lazy… what these traits all have in common is that I study how we do something today and think if there’s a faster and easier way to do it.

As a young lawyer in the 1990s, the type of drudgery work I did – reviewing documents, highlighting depositions and then summarizing depositions into computer notes, keeping billing notes by hand and then entering it into spreadsheets – it all just seemed so behind the times to me – even then.

So I take that same mindset into the work I do at Thomson Reuters. The thought of ‘do we have to keep doing something that way – just because that’s how it’s always been done.’

For example – legal and due diligence research.

These are two areas that I have witnessed such inefficiency around – just keeping doing work the way someone did it say 20 years ago or even longer… versus leveraging technology to do what I call “the heavy lifting” of the project.

Anyone who has heard me speak knows I share stories of how we used to do something. I love stories like these because they help show us how fast things move – so fast, you may not notice.

I keep this black and white photo of a typewriter with the phrase “no wi-fi available” – hanging on my office wall – it’s just a funny thing that reminds me of how technology keeps moving forward, changing how we do things.

It keeps me on my toes to think of what’s coming next.

But here’s the important part – just like technology – financial crimes, fraud, criminals, they keep evolving too. It seems like we are always learning of a new scam, type of fraud, money laundering vehicle, etc.

Staying one step in front of this is challenging – but it’s motivating.

What we all do in our jobs in this space makes a difference and is critically important. Knowing that purpose keeps me focused.

Is there anything that surprised you about your current role?

That I love teaching others about what we’re building, how it works, and about what’s coming. I now proudly admit to being a data nerd but I never would have predicted it.

How did you get your first job in the field and what advice would you give other job seekers to help land their first position?

Your first position is just how you start – it’s not where you land.

Have an idea of what you’d like to do – if it’s a large company or government agency – you have many options to move around.

My first job in law school was in a brokerage firm’s compliance dept – and I landed that job by taking a job I really didn’t love and asking for the compliance role once law school started.

I could only have landed that great first law clerk spot by taking a not dream first job and creating the role I wanted. That job helped launch me to very exciting law jobs and ultimately to what I’m doing today.

For professionals with 5-10 years of experience, what advice would give to help them rise in their careers to the next level?

Keep your resume updated every year – it reminds you of how much you’ve accomplished and helps you set new goals.

Is there a job you’re interested in? You need to do your research to answer that. Make sure to stay connected in your industry.

Join industry organizations, like ACFCS, and find mentors – both inside your job and outside. Local chapters are a great way to do that.

Be willing to ask for introductions. Right now – with so little face to face events happening for the time being – be brave and turn on your computer camera in your internal and external meetings.

The key is to make connections. Leverage relationship building to get to your next career goal.